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Steve Cofield

Newspapers continue their assault on MMA

Steve Cofield
Cagewriter

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The hits keep coming from the N.Y. Times and its magazine. A few months ago it was a ridiculous hit piece on mixed martial arts on the op-ed page circa 2001. Now the magazine has Virginia Heffernan doing a feature on watching UFC 92. Is it satirical or straight out lying for effect? You be the judge.

Anytime a story is slugged "Blood Sport", you know you're in trouble. Here are the 10 worst lines of the story:

10. To people I mention it to, mixed martial arts seems better known as “that thing where they actually kill each other.”

This is a ridiculous line. No one has ever died as a result of fighting in an Octagon. But for the uninitiated they could buy this hook, line and sinker.

9. Tapping out is just one concept from the steroidal lexicon of mixed martial arts.

Actually if you examine the jargon used in MMA it comes from an intelligent base. The use of the word steroid in any form is way too suggestive.

8. Fighters are tattooed, pierced and frequently bearded, and their goth uniform is unmistakable.

Unmistakable is better used as a way to describe the generation gap on display with Heffernan and the under-40 crowd. The line suggesting that tattoos, piercings and beards are somehow evil is ridiculous. Who didn't like the hillbilly beard sported by Dustin Hazelett?

7. Just as there is no National Football League without broadcast television, there is no Ultimate Fighting without the singular type of TV distribution called pay-per-view

This is another flat out lie. MMA's television distribution is far from singular. Spike and Versus carry thousands of hours of fight action and when CBS returns with its Strikeforce show, MMA will again be on free network TV.

6. While pro football goes with expensive commercials, studio commentators and vast, mainstream audiences on Sundays and in prime time, Ultimate Fighting goes with deranged hypemen and exclusive, high-paying audiences late at night.

Why not mix in the word steroidal when addressing the NFL? Who are the "deranged" hypemen she speaks of, Joe Rogan or Mike Goldberg? If it were Mauro Ranallo, I could understand but both Rogan and Goldberg are pretty reserved and professional along the lines of any broadcast team that would call an NFL game.

5. As the preshow hype continued, I noticed an uncannily bright fighter named Frank Mir, who mixed analysis and bombast as if they were the only true martial arts.

This is my favorite. An intelligent fighter being called uncanny? It would be interesting to compare the average mixed martial artist and NFL player based on speaking ability.

4. Once I paid my door fee, I was swept into a new world pulsing with color — a kind of red-light district with weird geniuses for tour guides who made the whole experience seem culturally crucial.

Red-light district? Has this woman ever watched any kind of fighting? The UFC has simply stolen the model set up by boxing 60 years ago and tweaked the presentation to make it more interesting. And I don't think I've watched MMA and ever thought that this is "culturally crucial."

3. Blood is shed; bones break; contusions develop before your eyes.

There were no bones broken that anyone would know about. Main eventer Forrest Griffin did suffer a hand injury but unless Heffernan was in the lockerroom, she wouldn't have known that from the action she witnessed. I've watched roughly 55 UFC cards in person and only seen one broken limb where it was obvious. That's over 500 fights.

2. Men are felled by “accidental” strikes to the groin (along with eye-gouging and biting, such strikes are prohibited, but I saw several).

This was a bad night for UFC because it did appear that Cheick Kongo kicked Mustapha Al-Turk in the groin on purpose. But the way this is written, it also suggests that there was eye-gouging and biting.

1. As I swore off Ultimate Fighting for the rest of my life — it’s horrifying — I let myself whoop with joy when Rampage won. I told myself I was just trying to fit in.

This is a nice line to finish the story. It's clear she doesn't enjoy mixed martial arts. To each his own. This is simply more proof that newspapers cater to a different aging audience. It's sad to say but the insistence on delivering "news" to that same audience in the same old style is also why major newspapers are losing subscribers and are on the verge of going under.

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